Friday fun: Nickel Plate Arts Weekend

Festival season is upon us, but few of the summer standards offer the geographic reach of Nickel Plate Arts Weekend, which features three days of activities in six communities.

The Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau came up with the ongoing Nickel Plate Arts initiative to support and promote arts experiences in an area stretching from Fishers to Tipton.

This is its second weekend celebration.

Nickel Plate Arts’ campus in Noblesville will be a hub of activity through Sunday, but events also are planned in Fishers, Cicero, Arcadia, Atlanta and Tipton, just over the county line.

Among the highlights: a performance of interactive play “Going, Going, Gone” in Noblesville (co-produced by IBJ’s own Lou Harry), an Art Train running between Cicero and Arcadia, live music in Atlanta, a chance to paint Tipton purple, and a performance in Fishers relating the story of the “great squirrel stampede” that occurred in the 1800s. (Find a full schedule here.)

“Building a thriving arts community is something we are dedicated to,” said Director Aili McGill, who is charged with building Nickel Plate Arts into an independent organization over the next three years.

The Hamilton County tourism group invested almost $1 million in the two-building arts campus on Eighth Street just south of the courthouse square in Noblesville, rescuing the historic Judge Stone House (1849) and Stephenson House (1900) in the process.

It also pays Nickel Plate Arts’ two full-time employees and provides $120,000 in annual operating funds.

In addition to housing an open-to-the-public gallery where artists can display and sell their work, the Noblesville campus includes eight studios available to rent. Weekly art classes draw dozens of participants.

The organization also collaborates on and promotes community activities like Noblesville Main Street’s monthly First Friday events and Fishers’ summer concert series.

Creating such connections is among Nickel Plate Arts’ goals, McGill said.

“Hamilton County has over 200 practicing artists, yet it is not seen as an arts destination,” she said. “There is incredible potential there."

What do you make of the arts initiative? This weekend's events?

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